Inside The New Gothic: ‘The Vault of Artemas Smith’ by Phil Reeves

The Gothic is the most enduring literary tradition in history but in recent years friendly ghosts and vegetarian vampires threaten its foundations. The New Gothic is a collection of short stories which revisits to the core archetypes of the Gothic, the rambling, secret-filled building, the stranger seeking answers, the black-hearted tyrant, and reminds us not to embrace but to fear the darkness.

Beautiful Lovecraftian prose from Phil Reeves abounds in ‘The Vault of Artemas Smith’ and instantly places the reader into the dank vaults beneath a demolished house. In true Gothic style however, our narrator and his unfortunate friend, are not the only things lurking in the dark passages.

It was with apprehension that I unlocked the safe I found upon Mr. Artemas Smith’s destroyed property. All I experienced after that decision to venture into those arcane halls has been judged by everyone as nothing short of impossible. The extensive search by the police, once I was in custody, did nothing to produce any physical evidence. So now I sit, locked within a prison cell for trespassing into a citizen’s home, with the vain hope that my account will be read by others who should know the truth. I attest to my own sanity, though the authorities have robbed me of all other dignity. I hold the fact of accuracy as the one characteristic that will convince anyone that my actions beneath Mr. Smith’s home were duly understandable.

From his biweekly correspondence, I could tell of Mr. Smith’s pleasant nature, detecting no undertones of singular horror or perversion. We had communicated for months after my father had given me his address for a subject I have unfortunately forgotten. I was also given a heliotype portrait clipped from the pages of a forgotten journal. The most memorable feature of Mr. Smith was his distinctive expression, but I wish never to see that picture again, and, if my property had not been seized, I would burn it immediately. It is also understandable that after the lack of communication for near four months, I went to investigate the absence of my friend’s replies.

For the rest, get The New Gothic from Stone Skin Press.

Phil Reeves is a British illustrator and graphic designer inspired by H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and China Miéville. His visual work has been published by Pelgrane Press within such titles as Sisters of Sorrow, Eternal Lies, and The Esoterrorists 2nd Edition. His artwork portfolio can be found on his website.

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